Canon IXUS 500 HS review

The slimmest compact camera to squeeze in a 12x optical zoom

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  • Stylish design
  • Solid construction
  • Broad optical zoom range
  • Compact dimensions
  • Full HD video with stereo sound


  • Pricey
  • Teeny backplate controls
  • Images lack definition, especially at maximum zoom
  • Unimpressive battery life

With an almost glacial, cough sweet-inspired sheen to the maroon camera we tested - blue, black or silver being the alternatives - the 10.1 megapixel Canon IXUS 500 HS is deeply fashionable.

Since the IXUS was first introduced as an APS film camera in the late 1990s, the range has consistently majored on stylishness as much as specification. Indeed, the boxy design harks back to the very first digital IXUS.

Here the pack of playing cards-sized chassis squeezes a 12x optical zoom into its 19.2mm depth. That's a significant step on from the standard 3x zoom of 10 years ago.

The IXUS 500 HS' 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-336mm arguably nudges it into travel zoom territory. Not that it's quite up there with the 20x reach of, say, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30, which adds integral GPS.

Canon ixus 500 hs review

The other chief talking point for the Canon IXUS 500 HS is the better than average low light capability suggested by a back illuminated 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor not over-burdened with pixels - a sensible choice, since 10.1MP is perfectly adequate on a snapshot camera.

Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels video capture at 24fps also features, and is, like stills shooting, composed via the 460k-dot resolution 3-inch LCD.

While this is perfectly fine as a framing device outdoors, the screen image does get noticeably grainy in lower light.

Usefully, HDMI output is provided for hooking the camera up to a flatscreen TV, while Canon once again includes its Movie digest function, whereby a four second clip is captured each time a still's taken. Fun if you've got the feature activated while spending a day sightseeing and snapping - think of it as a sped up video diary of your day's shooting.

What may give you pause is the price - £305 in the UK, or $300 in the US, where it's called the Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS. So, as usual with Canon IXUS cameras, it seems we're paying a premium. Particularly when set against similarly-spec'd compacts such as the Nikon Coolpix S6200, Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V and Samsung EX1.

So does the Canon justify the cost?

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution10.1 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilyIXUS
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD Card, microSDHC Card, microSD Extended Capacity (microSDXC)
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom12x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameCanon
FeaturesLive View, Self-timer, Face Detection, Wink Detection, Smile Detection, Continuous Shooting Mode, Orientation Sensor
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4, QuickTime MOV
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)155 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE, REACH, ENERGY STAR
Image Sensor Size1/2.3" (6.16 mm x 4.62 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution3648 x 2736
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height53.9 mm
Width87.1 mm
Depth19.2 mm
Focal Length4 mm to 48 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
External FlashNo
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerCanon, Inc
Product Model500 HS
Product NameIXUS 500 HS Compact Camera
Product LineIXUS
Exposure Control

Program AE

Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number6172B007AA
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

The IXUS 500 HS brings a big 12x zoom to a compact, stunning metal body - getting you closer, in style. With HS System, Intelligent IS and Smart Auto, shooting great images is easy, even in low light.

Package Contents
  • IXUS 500 HS Compact Camera
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-9L
  • Charger
Limited Warranty1 Year